FUUSE Forum, November 2015: Forced Marriage

Shaheen Fuuse 1A few months ago I was asked by the wonderful Deeyah Khan if I would speak about my perspective on forced marriage at the second event in a series produced by FUUSE Forum, a platform dedicated to discussion of harmful practices and radicalisation. It was so refreshing for me to able to approach the topic from an angle of my own choosing, as most often I’m asked by the press to relate my dramatic story of escape from the threat of forced marriage when I was 12 years old. Although it’s clear that I do need to keep telling that story to reach those who are simply unaware of the very real threat to victims’ safety at the hands of their own families, I really wanted people to know that the story doesn’t just end with escape, and that it’s not a case of living happily after, basking in freedoms previously unknown. The psychological impact of sudden estrangement, suicidal depression, and continued vulnerability due to a lack of awareness in asserting personal boundaries are all very real concerns for anyone who has been ‘lucky’ enough to escape a forced marriage situation. Here is the link to my talk – I hope you find it useful.

Scottish Sunday Mail, November 30 2014

This is the transcript of an article by journalist Jenny Morrison featuring the most in-depth interview about my experiences that I’ve done to date. It took me a while to agree to do this, as it would a mean a lot more detailed exposure closer to home and my fear of a backlash was greater. But the imbalance of efforts to raise awareness and provide support throughout the UK is too significant to dismiss an opportunity to at least try and address this. Please note the minor clarifications I’ve included below the transcript.

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The Good Patient

The last eight months have taught me that sometimes, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit how ‘good’ a patient I am when it comes to mental health treatment – I can still be plunged into the deepest of crises and left gasping in panic at the seemingly inevitable truth that I just cannot not bear to be alive for one more minute. It doesn’t matter how good my attitude is, or how hard I work to remain positive. It doesn’t matter how much I bust a gut to work through frustration and despair to keep up open and honest communication with doctors, employers and therapists, or how often I practice my tightly-honed coping techniques – at times I am just a slave to circumstances and/or brain chemistry. And I’m tired of seeing other people with mental health issues being vilified for apparently not doing enough to control their symptoms. Continue reading

Mental Illness: Nature or Nurture?

In my last post, I was writing while in the midst of a highly dangerous BPD trigger episode that took me fearfully close to attempting suicide again. Before I go any further, I should make it clear that I am no expert in mental illness except when it comes to describing my own experience of it. There may be times when I use terminology that feels absolutely right in doing so, but which those who are experts may well apply more knowledgably. I’m glad to say that I’m feeling a lot better since then, although I’m still angry that I didn’t get the care I needed, and indeed am still not getting. I did, however, manage to get one session in with my psychotherapist, and as predicted she helped me to identify the trigger for this severe episode.

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The Anxiety of Happiness

Today I’m remembering a therapy session I had with *Maria a few years back. I hadn’t been diagnosed with BPD or bipolar disorder at the time, although that’s not really what’s important here. I’m just remembering the strangest dilemma I had, and it’s one echoed by several people close to me who, through circumstance or self-development, have made real progress in enhancing their emotional well-being, but were finding that instead of feeling content and happy, their levels of anxiety and even panic were becoming more pronounced the better they got! Talk about a ‘can’t bloody win’ situation! But nonetheless, the feeling of overwhelm, dread and mistrust that came with feelings of increased contentment and happiness were very real.

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Life After Honour Abuse

Some months ago, I wrote this post sharing the fact that I have experienced honour abuse. I was told in no uncertain terms by relatives that legal action would be taken if I continued talking about this on a public platform. I have encountered a range of reactions from others, from messages of support and encouragement to questions about why I would choose to sacrifice my relationships with those who are supposed to be dearest to me. I’d like to answer that question today.

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Bipolar Depression: My Recurring Nightmare

NB: I wrote this post a few weeks back (it’s now almost July), and am happy to say I am feeling much better than I did here! That’s not to say I’ll never be there again, but right now I’m grateful to be on the up 🙂

Yep. I’m here again. I shouldn’t be surprised to find that I have entered yet another phase of depression considering I have bipolar disorder, and type II at that, but let me tell you – my heart falls through the fucking floor each and every time it becomes so debilitating that I can’t function properly, like it is now. Continue reading

Exercise and Mental Illness

Having recently moved house, I found myself stupidly broke after paying higher rent plus deposit, so I had to cut costs wherever I could. That meant suspending my membership at Premier MMA, the gym where I train in KTX kickboxing and jiu jitsu (these guys are incredible by the way – check them out if you’re local). I’ve always known it does me good on so many levels to have regular (even daily) exercise, especially in helping to manage my symptoms of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. But I thought to myself, ‘What harm can a month off do?’ and besides I didn’t really have another choice unless I got into (more) debt.

At the end of that time, I can say without doubt that a month makes all the difference. The consequences of not getting regular exercise have reminded me that the slippery slope to ill mental health is never far away. Continue reading